|Gunman was polite, helpful, decorated soldier
A picture emerged Monday of American Aaron Alexis, (pictured) the man suspected of killing a dozen people at the Washington naval yard, as a decorated sailor with a troubled past and anger issues.
Alexis, 34, is reported to have used guns in moments of anger but was also known as a quiet man who meditated regularly at a Buddhist temple in Texas and had taught himself Thai, AFP reports.
The defense contractor was killed in a gunfight with police.
Born in New York, Alexis served in the military from 2007 until 2011, the US Navy said.
Three years before he enlisted, Alexis was arrested in Seattle for shooting out the tires of a car in what he later told detectives was an anger-fueled blackout after construction workers had "disrespected him.''
He told police that he could not remember firing his gun until about an hour after the incident, according to a police report posted online by the Seattle police.
He explained to detectives that he was in New York during the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and described ``how those events had disturbed him.''
Detectives later spoke with his father, who told them his son's “anger management problems'' were due to post-traumatic stress disorder and that he had been an “active participant in rescue attempts'' after the attacks.
“From the outside, he was a quiet person,'' J. Sirun, an assistant to the monks at the Buddhist temple Alexis attended in Texas, told the Washington Post.
“But on the inside, I think he was very aggressive. He did not like to be close with anybody, like a soldier who has been at war.''
A former roommate who described Alexis as his “best friend'' was shocked by the news.
"I don't think he'd do this,'' Nutpisit Suthamtewakul, owner of Happy Bowl Thai, told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “He has a gun, but I don't think he's that stupid. He didn't seem aggressive to me.''
A former landlord, who also frequents the Wat Busayadhammavanaram Meditation Center, was also stunned by the news and said he'd never seen Alexis get angry about anything.
“Oh boy, I can't believe this,'' Srisan told the Star Telegram. “He was always very polite to me.''
Alexis spent the bulk of his military career in a fleet logistics support squad in Fort Worth, rising to the rank of Aviation Electrician's Mate, third class, the Navy said.
He received two common awards during his service: the National Defense Service Medal and Global War on Terrorism Service Medal.